A forbidden love between a Mexican heiress and a shrewd British politician makes for a tantalizing Victorian season.
Ana María Luna Valdés has strived to be the perfect daughter, the perfect niece, and the perfect representative of the powerful Luna family. So when Ana María is secretly sent to London with her sisters to seek refuge from the French occupation of Mexico, she experiences her first taste of freedom far from the judgmental eyes of her domineering father. If only she could ignore the piercing looks she receives across ballroom floors from the austere Mr. Fox.
Gideon Fox elevated himself from the London gutters by chasing his burning desire for more: more opportunities, more choices. For everyone. Now, as a member of Parliament, Gideon is on the cusp of securing the votes he needs to put forth a measure to abolish the Atlantic slave trade once and for all—a cause that is close to his heart as the grandson of a formerly enslaved woman. The charmingly vexing Ana María is a distraction he must ignore.
But when Ana María finds herself in the crosshairs of a nefarious nobleman with his own political agenda, Gideon knows he must offer his hand as protection . . . but will this Mexican heiress win his heart as well?
ANA MARIA AND THE FOX – Excerpt
“You’ve never had alcohol?” Gabby’s expression turned impish. “Not even a gulp of tequila to celebrate el Día de la Independencia?”
“Of course not,” she sputtered. “Have you?”
Isabel snorted while Gabby threw her hands wide. “Sí. Many times.”
Ana María’s gaze darted between her sisters, who stared back with exasperation.
“Siempre tan perfecta,” Isabel murmured, but there was no ire in her words.
“Not anymore it seems. And the worst part is that the only reason I even knew what had happened was that Señor Fox told me,” she moaned, dropping her head to her chest.
“He strikes me as an honorable man, Ana. Surely he told you out of concern rather than mockery,” Isabel said gently.
Mr. Fox’s charcoal eyes had intently inspected her when he’d first arrived for their waltz, and she’d been touched by his regard. Now she knew it stemmed from something darker . . .
“I believe he was, it’s just . . .” Ana María nibbled on her lip. “When he warned me that my behavior had generated talk, I was disappointed.”
“Why were you disappointed?”
“Because I felt judged.” She pursed her mouth. “It reminded me of how Father would scold me for the smallest infraction.”
“Oh,” Isabel whispered, while Gabby scowled.
“But Father is not here.” Gabby slapped her hands on her thighs. “We have been tasked by TíoArturo to socialize and befriend members of society. And while what happened tonight was regrettable, it does not mean you need to take up Father’s switch simply because he’s not here to wield it himself.”
Gabby’s declaration landed like a blow, and Ana María gasped a breath. Was that what she was doing? Punishing herself for infractions she knew would have displeased their father?
“Was that the only thing Señor Fox warned you about?” Isabel asked.
She huffed. “Sadly, no. Apparently the British do not like it if you smile too brightly or laugh too loudly.”
“Truly?” Isabel wrinkled her nose.
Ana María splayed her hands. “According to what he overheard.”
“How ridiculous,” Gabby growled. “Smiling and laughing is somehow a sin? Or is it only when a woman does it?”
“Considering how Lord Simon and his friends were just as, if not more, inebriated than I was but no one was condemning them, I’d say society’s judgment is not as readily concerned with men’s behavior,” Ana María grumbled.
“I swear that people thrive on being critical of women.” Gabby crossed her arms over her chest, her expression mulish. “If it was not Father’s reproach, it’s now these nonsensical edicts.”
“Perhaps Señor Fox thought to warn me because I imagine he knows a bit about being an outsider,” Ana María offered.
The sisters exchanged a knowing look.
“Which was kind of him,” Isabel said.
And she had lashed out at his kindness. Remorse festered in her chest. Surely her waltz with Mr. Fox was the last time she would ever spend in his arms.
“I had thought things would be different here. That I would be different here.” Her shoulders sank. “And yet I’m still the same Ana, always wanting to please others.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Gabby patted the back of her hand. “And you are different—you were borracha at the ball, and I am immensely proud of you.”
A bark of laughter burst from Ana María’s lips before she knew what she was doing. Gabby grinned openly, while Isabel’s trembling lips were smashed into a firm line. Something about the manner in which her sister was trying so hard not to smile quadrupled her own amusement, and Ana María leaned forward and pressed her face to her thighs as amusement shook her frame.
She could feel the tension leave her shoulders, her jaw . . . her mind as she chuckled along with her sisters. When was the last time she had shared in a bit of humor with Isabel and Gabby? The fact that she could not remember made her infinitely sad.
Whatever had happened before was no more. They were here now, together, and once again Ana María was reminded that no one could stop them from being friends.
Excerpted from Ana María and The Fox by Liana De la Rosa Copyright © 2023 by Liana De la Rosa. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Ana Maria And The Fox is the first novel in The Luna Sisters series by Liana De la Rosa. Ana Maria and her sisters, Gabby and Isabel, are secretly sent to London to escape from the French occupation of Mexico. Ana Maria is thrilled at her freedom from her father’s domination. Gideon Fox, a grandson of a formerly enslaved woman, has fought his way to being a member of parliament. Gideon is wholly focused on the abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Gideon and Ana Maria are thrown together in London Society, and the two find a forbidden connection.
I enjoyed this book immensely; however, I felt the book’s focus was more historical than romance in the first 65% of the book. The slow-burn romance builds between Gideon and Ana Maria and becomes prominent in the book’s second half. That said, I thought the plot was intricate and intriguing, with vivid lovable, relatable characters. I loved the relationship that builds between the three estranged sisters. I was fascinated with both Gideon and Ana Maria, and their romance was sweetly romantic.
The plot moved well and was unique in its focus on Mexico and the Atlantic slave trade. This book engages the reader in an era of history that isn’t spotlighted often. I was captured in the first chapter, and the book kept my rapt attention. This is an excellent foundation for a series, and I look forward to Gabby and Isabel’s romances. I have been a fan of Liana De la Rosa’s books, and Ana Maria And The Fox has a brilliant mixture of intrigue and passionate romance.
Publication Date: April 4, 2023
About the Author
Liana De la Rosa is a historical romance author who writes diverse characters in the Regency and Victorian periods. Liana has an English degree from the University of Arizona, and in her past life she owned a mystery shopping company and sold pecans for a large farm. When she’s not writing, Liana is listening to true crime podcasts and pretending she’s a domestic goddess while she wrangles her spirited brood of children with her patient husband in Arizona. Learn more online atwww.lianadelarosa.com.